Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heddatron, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, February 11 - March 5

Heddatrong, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, Austin

Central Texas is about to be knee-deep in Heddas. Dustin Wills and friends down at the Salvage Vanguard Theatre start that unplanned festival with this "back to the future" version. The promising, term-limited Palindrome Theatre opens a "world premiere" (!) adaptation by Nigel O'Hearn at the Blue Theate, beginning next week. And then in May Tony Ciaravino will do another, presumably more classic, with the Classic Theatre in San Antonio.

SVT's jangly, mystifying absurdist staging of Heddatron runs riot with Ibsen's play. To tell the truth, you don't need to be familiar with the original in order to appreciate this funhouse madness. Precocious young Ava Johns plays a smug-beyond-her-years sixth grader giving a book report on the play.

A sixth grader assigned to read Ibsen's subtle portrait of the destructive, self-destuctive young Norwegian bride? That should give you a hint and a fasten your seatbelts for a theatre ride that outdoes Honey, I Shrunk The Kids for weirdness, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly for menace, and The Iron Giant for cybernetics. The script riffs explicitly on the first two. And on Ibsen -- both on Hedda Gabler and the mutton-chopped, sometimes oblivious incarnation of the Norwegian writer himself.

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